Congress’ Veto Vendetta: Maximum Override

In a legislative drama that mixes politics as usual with examples of strange bedfellows and reputational role reversals, it looks like Congress will finally get to override one of President Bush’s infrequent vetoes. This morning the President killed the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 with his (sadly underused) veto pen. The leadership in Congress, however, is promising a quick resurrection. It has even led, according to CongressNow, to Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) actually being on the same side of an issue! Inhofe is now officially allied with Boxer against the White House. Will wonders never cease?

In any case, the President’s veto statement made some interesting (and possibly even valid) points:

…this authorization bill makes promises to local communities that the Congress does not have a track record of keeping. The House of Representatives took a $15 billion bill into negotiations with a $14 billion bill from the Senate and instead of splitting the difference, emerged with a Washington compromise that costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill’s excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete.

Perhaps that McClatchy story from last week about Bush being the biggest spender since LBJ has gotten under his skin a little. Let’s hope, anyway. He definitely gets points from me for pointing out the phenomenon of the “Washington compromise,” by which both sides are satisfied by simply adding the cost of the two bills together. That must have been the chummiest conference committee negotiation ever. Just goes to show you, the only thing worse that gridlocked opposition is “bipartisan consensus.” When you hear that phrase, reach for your wallet.